'Pharma Bro' Shkreli is convicted at securities fraud trial

Credit Kevin Hagen Getty Images

A jury has found Martin Shkreli guilty on two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, and not guilty on five other counts, in a trial that centered on the former pharmaceutical executive's management of two hedge funds.

He was tried in relation to a drug company he previously headed and a hedge fund he managed. The defense tried to undercut the testimony of the prosecution's witnesses, portraying them as rich sophisticates who didn't carefully read the documents Shkreli gave them.

"Before he made headlines as the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli founded a pharmaceutical company, Retrophin, and a pair of hedge funds, MSMB Capital Management and MSMB Healthcare".

Shkreli became infamous in 2015 when he obtained the license to manufacture the drug Daraprim, used in people with AIDS to fight a parasite, then raised the price from $13.50 per pill to $750.

The Friday decision ends five days of jury deliberations after a five-week trial in federal court in Brooklyn.

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"Martin is a brilliant young man", his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said after Friday's ruling.

His defence attorney even quoted a song title by the pop star Lady Gaga to say Shkreli "was born this way". "Cause he's not guilty", Mr Brafman argued in front of the jury. Several potential jurors were kept off the panel after expressing disdain for the defendant, with one calling him a "snake" and another "the face of corporate greed".

Judge Kiyo Matsumoto felt obliged at one point to issue a gag order, after Shkreli surprised reporters during a lunch break by ranting against enemies whom he said were trying to "blame me for capitalism". The case against him, however, has nothing to do with the Daraprim pricing, and the federal investigation into Shkreli's hedge fund and Retrophin work began well before that.

The 34-year-old Shkreli is notorious for a price-gouging scandal and for his snide "Pharma Bro" persona on social media, but the case focused on allegations that he blew investors' money on bad stock picks before raiding his drug company of stock and cash to pay them back.

He often appeared to revel in the negative publicity he received. "It's time for Martin Shkreli to be held accountable", she said. Prosecutors also accused Shkreli invested some of investors' money in Retrophin without telling them. He told her "I don't think you understand pharmaceuticals".

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